Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Halloween films are a series of horror movies that are considered among the most important and influential to the genre.
The original blockbuster
The first film, Halloween (originally titled The Babysitter Murders), was written and directed by John Carpenter, executive produced by Moustapha Akkad, and released in 1978, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence. In the movie, six-year-old Michael Myers brutally kills his older sister on Halloween night, 1963 and is locked in a mental institution. Fifteen years later, he escapes and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois to continue his rampage. Pursued by his psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Pleasance), Myers sets his intentions on babysitter Laurie Strode (Curtis) (after already killing several of her friends). Eventually, Loomis catches up with Myers in the upstairs room of a house, and shoots the murderer six times. Myers falls through a window and Loomis rescues Laurie. But looking up from the upstairs window, Loomis discovers Myers is gone...he has escaped once again. Myers has "come home" (as the tagline on the movie poster mentions), and will return to kill again.
Halloween is generally considered the first of a long line of modern-day "slasher" movies, though some film scholars (and cult movie fans) say the credit for this goes to either Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho or Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Nonetheless, this movie originated a great many of the clichés seen in countless low-budget "splatter" films of the 1980s and 1990s. (First-time viewers of Halloween may be surprised by the fact that compared to its many imitators and competitors, the original film actually has very few explicitly violent scenes.)
Deeper meaning has been read into this movie by some film critics, including the idea that everyone who dies in the film is sexually promiscuous, while the "innocent" (chaste) heroine survives. Carpenter has been quoted as saying that inclusion of this sort of morality into the story was entirely unintentional, and he did not mean for the movie to be seen as a form of "punishment" for those who indulge in sex and drug use. And yet the parallel between a character's moral strengths and their likelihood of not getting killed has become a standard slasher movie trope. Critic Roger Ebert has taken to calling this genre the "Dead Teenager Movie", the principal cliché of which is that the only teenager to survive is always the virginal girl who declines all of the vices (pot smoking, etc.) indulged in by those who end up skewered. And some other films in this genre have explored the sexual morality question from the other angle, drawing metaphorical parallels between sexual repression and the acts of the killer (as in William Lustig 's Maniac ).
The Death of Michael Myers?
Halloween's success has led to a number of sequels. In 1981, Akkad sold the film rights to maverick producer Dino DeLaurentis (though Akkad was still actively involved in its production). Later that year, DeLaurentis (in partnership with Universal Pictures) released Halloween II , also written by Carpenter and directed by Rick Rosenthal . The story picked up precisely where the 1978 original left off, in fact taking place on the same night where the original movie ended, along with the revelation that Michael Myers' intended victim Laurie Strode is the murderer's sister. Carpenter was extremely displeased with it, describing it as "about as scary as an episode of Quincy" and, reportedly, reshooting many scenes himself. However, the sequel was intended to be the final chapter of the series (with both murderer Myers and Dr. Loomis dying at the end of the film, both victims of Loomis' self-sacrifice by blowing up the hospital).
A third film in the series, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was released in 1982, also by Universal Pictures. Whereas the first sequel had used similar plot themes and characters to the original, Halloween III was an entirely unrelated film, and was met with powerful derision by both critics and fans of the franchise.
"...More Of The Night He Came Home."
Picking up precisely where its predecessor left off, Halloween II follows the same ill-fated characters as they encounter the knife-wielding maniac they left for dead in the first Halloween. It seems the inhuman Michael Myers is still very much alive and out for more revenge as he stalks the deserted halls of the hospital where his sister lays waiting. As he gets closer and closer to his terrified target, Dr. Loomis discovers the chilling mystery behind the crazed psychopath's savage actions. Written by horror masters John Carpenter and Debra Hill, Halloween II is a spine-tingling dark ride into the scariest night of the year.
Myers Rising From The Grave
Those who wanted more Michael Myers were rewarded, as a further five films based on the original's themes were made. In 1988 (the tenth anniversary of the release of the original movie), Moustapha Akaad bought back the rights to the series from Dino DeLaurentis, and produced . The sequel (which was released independently) brought back both murderer Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis back from their graves (in Hollywood scriptwriting tradition), and Myers escapes once again to go on a murder spree, this time preying on his last surviving kin, his niece. The success of the sequel inspired yet another sequel the following year, Halloween 5 (aka Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers), also released independently.
A new Dimension for Haddonfield
In 1995, the sequel rights were sold again, this time to Miramax Films (via its Dimension Films division). Miramax/Dimension then released , which partially told a back story on Myers' origins. Joe Chappelle directed, but once again studio interference caused the re-editing of the film and the re-shooting of certain scenes, thus the film's final subplot (involving Dr. Loomis) was eliminated, but still leaving the door open for another sequel.
Unfortunately, Donald Pleasance passed away before Halloween H20: 20 Years Later could begin production in 1998, which incidentally marked the 20th anniversary of the first film. H20 marked the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode (since her character had died sometime before the events of the fourth film, the previous three films in the series are igorned with this set as a direct follow-up to Halloween II). Both that film and the follow-up, Halloween: Resurrection (2002), were produced in the same style as Dimension's previous horror films (such as Scream and Scary Movie).
It must be noted that many of the original's fans are disenchanted by the seemingly endless spate of sequels, which are perceived as cynically-motivated moneymakers, rather than quality horror films made by dedicated filmmakers with a love for the originals and a genuine artistic vision.
The film rights
Currently, Trancas International Films (Akkad's production company) holds the rights to the first, fourth, and fifth films (Anchor Bay Entertainment holds the home video rights to these films). Carlton/ITC holds the television rights to the original movie, while Anchor Bay holds TV rights to the fourth and fifth films. Universal Pictures owns the rights to Halloween II and III, and Miramax/Dimension has full rights to the rest of the series. Dimension also currently own rights to any further sequels in the Halloween series, including one being considered for production in 2005.
See also: Halloween, the holiday for which the movie is named.
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